Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Between A Porcupine And A BMW...

Years ago, while working as a clerk for a judge at the First Circuit Court, State of Hawaii, I had the interesting opportunity to watch lawyers argue the law up-close and personal. I always found the argument to be invigorating. That debating of the issue and defeat of your opponent - it was exhilarating.

And while I took law classes at the University of Hawaii and thought about becoming a lawyer, I realized that I didn't want to be some jerk-off lawyer driving a BMW, I'd rather be some jerk-off movie guy driving a Land Rover. Oh well.

Fast forward to yesterday evening where I was called to an emergency session of an organization that I was once its' president and still remain in an advisory position to this day. Recently, an election of new officers had been held with the official slate from the nominating committee handily beating out the other candidates by a 30% margin.

The session was being held to address the concerns and official protest by the presidential candidate who lost and one of the officers of the current board. I was in attendance to listen to the complaint and see if there were indeed any violations during the electoral process.

Listening to the recitation of the complaint and the many "whereas" statements, one thing became clear: everything stated by the plaintiffs was hearsay and circumstantial (at best). Besides a single sheet of paper stating their complaint, there was nothing else. No supporting evidence, no corroborating witnesses. This was a hotly contested election where the candidates had their own observers watching the electoral process and observers who watched the actual count to insure that there was no tomfoolery.

In fact, during the election, there was no issue raised or complaint made about the process. One teller in attendance stated that she didn't find any errors during the process itself as she was observing it - and she was on the side of the plaintiffs. Odd.

It was then that I decided we need to prosecute their case against them. Hold them to a standard that required supporting evidence. Truth be told, if they had provided supporting evidence of improper procedures and mishandling of the election, I would be in favor of nullifying the election as they were asking. But I'm not going to send an organization into turmoil just because they said that one flew over the cuckoo's nest - I need to see evidence.

Quite frankly, I was a bit disappointed. I wanted to face a worthy opponent, not some guy offering his opinion and hearsay "evidence." Not some guy who wanted members of the election committee to incriminate themselves with his leading questions. I wasn't going to let it be easy for him.

My task was to parry his arguments and show that they were full of holes. Place doubt and the realization that the plaintiffs offered nothing but a piece of paper that stated a hollow complaint in the minds of the board. They would decide the outcome but they needed to see that this was all a hocus-pocus sham that held no weight under scrutiny.

At times it was a bitter battle but I thought it was fun. A lot of fun. And when the board voted overwhelmingly against the complaint, it was exhilarating. Victory. Nothing tasted sweeter. In the end, eleven members voted against the complaint, four abstained and one voted in support of the complaint. The presidential candidate who lost was one of the complainants and currently sits on the board with a vote - instead of voting in support of the complaint, the candidate decided to abstain thereby throwing her partner complainant under the bus and leaving him as the only member voting in support of the complaint. Even other members in support of the complaint decided to abstain rather than cast their vote.

With victory in my hand, I left the building invigorated and pumped. Nothing feels as sweet as a victory. Made me think that I could've been a great trial lawyer.

Problem is: I'm really not a BMW kind of guy.The